Conservation Design: Linking Development to the Land
Type of Degreethesis
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Alabama contains well over 500 abandoned mines across the northern part of the state and while some mining zones continue to degrade the landscape over time, others have been reclaimed naturally and left in an ambiguous state. One of these areas is the Cahaba River watershed, which is internationally known for its biodiversity. In recent times, however, it has come under pressure of development and pollution from nearby tributaries. Specifically, the land between Cahaba Heights and Lake Purdy, currently undeveloped wilderness, is disappearing because of residential development from the north and the constant expansion along Highway 280 from the south. This research investigates how to develop this land in a profitable way for a private developer, but in a productive way for the city using a conservation methodology, initially devised by landscape planner Randall Arendt. The premise is straightforward: a private land developer benefits from the construction of a clustered housing development that works with the land instead of the land working with the development, while the city retains a large portion of the land for public recreation. The resulting landscape not only becomes a quaint neighborhood in the woods, but also creates public amenity in a natural setting.